March 8, 2014
THE MODERATOR: Joining us from Tennessee, coach Holly Warlick, Cierra Burdick and Isabelle Harrison. We'll begin with an opening comment from coach Warlick.
COACH WARLICK: It was a battle. It was a grind. When we needed stops, we got stops. We got three in a row. We just played hard. Both teams battled.
We got bigtime rebounds. These young ladies were all over the boards. When you get 26 points off secondchance points, you're doing something really, really, really good.
So I'm really happy for this group and happy they get an opportunity to play in the championship game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Things were tooth and nail. You got 11 straight points from your two freshmen. Talk about the play of Jordan and Mercedes.
COACH WARLICK: They've been solid. It's been a learning process for them. I think the upperclassmen have really, really taken them under their wing and kept them focused.
I'll be honest, they're freshmen. They're having fun. They're just having fun. I don't know if they know to be worried or concerned. But they came up big.
Those two have been playing together for a very, very long time. I thought it showed. I thought Jordan looked for Mercedes. I thought Jordan just did some phenomenal things for us.
Q. Cierra, you got behind against LSU and Texas A&M. Did it feel like this was maybe a tougher comeback?
Cierra Burdick: Yeah, it definitely did. I feel like once we got the momentum going in LSU, we had it the rest of the game. It was freeflowing. We were playing some of our best basketball. We knew we were going to get that win.
This game was a grind. Our motto has been 'grind for nine.' It's been that since day one.
I commend my team. We continue to battle through adversity. We're so tight. We never get rattled. We just continue to stay composed, play our game, stay together.
Q. You were down 15 yesterday and 10 today. What are the keys to staying composed through those stretches?
Isabelle Harrison: I think as a team we kind of understood that when people play us, they're going to play their best basketball. Whatever happens, we stay composed. Our huddles are tight. Y'all are going to get in this stance, defensive things we have to do.
I feel like we did a good job of composing ourselves throughout the game.
Q. Coach, you got the Texas A&M bigs in foul trouble early on. Talk about how that changed the game.
COACH WARLICK: We're an inside out team. We wanted to get the ball inside, just kind of let our bigs go to work.
I thought we attacked their big players. Obviously it did help us to get them in foul trouble. But that's our game plan. We want to play inside out. When they're hitting inside, it opens up the outside for us.
They stuck to the game plan. They really did. Our defense could have been a little bit better. We gave the two Courtneys 22 and 26. They're phenomenal. They're great players.
As we said earlier, within the fourminute segment, we came up with three big stops. To me that's the biggest part of the game besides the secondchance points.
Texas A&M are solid. We had to give it our best shot.
Q. Isabelle, y'all started getting the bigs in foul trouble. Do you feel that's where y'all were able to start your comeback? Obviously it felt like a home game here. Lots of orange. Is that help pushing y'all?
Isabelle Harrison: It definitely helped us when their posts got in foul trouble. We could go inside more. We can kick it back out to our guards. That definitely helped us.
The crowd environment out here is great. It really feels like we're at home. The fans help us so much to stay in the game.
Q. I know the foul trouble has been mentioned several times now. Your take on how you actually managed to be so prolific on the backboards, do so much of your work inside. You were taking the foul shots, not them? Cierra Burdick: We struggled with foul trouble early in the season. I think we learned how the game is going to be called. We're seasoned in that area.
We make our money off of rebounding. I think that's what separates us from other teams in this league. We make it a priority. We do it every single day. We crash as hard as we can.
Dean always tells us, You got to crash 10 times out of 10. You may not get 10 of those boards, but you may get three or four, we try to keep that mindset.
Q. Holly, you survived two games with Meighan Simmons' jump shot terribly wayward. Do you think she puts too much pressure on herself in these tournament games?
COACH WARLICK: Probably so. I mean, she's a senior. I think she wants to do it so much for this team.
But I think you see the depth that we have as far as offensively being able to score. We don't intentionally run a lot of things to Meighan. We want to get the ball inside, play inside out.
You know, I thought she for the most part got some good looks. I thought the one in the corner, the three, she could have lined it up. It still didn't go in. It wasn't her day. She stepped up and hit successful big free throws.
I think this team understands that she may not have a good shooting night, but I think they're so together and they play so hard together, they don't get concerned that Meighan doesn't score. I don't think Meighan does, as well.
Q. Coach, not to be overly critical, she really wants to do it as a team. Tonight she got seven points from field goals out of 17 attempts, shooting less than 18%. Your other people were shooting better.
COACH WARLICK: When it's Meighan, you never know when she's going to get a hot hand. She's been 0forsomething, then she gets a hot hand, ended up scoring in the 20s. I'm not going to fault Meighan for taking shots. I think when we needed to get the ball inside, we got the ball inside.
That's her game. So everything we drew up in a timeout, we got it inside. Meighan, I don't know how much she played. 33. I can live with that.
Q. Holly, talk a little bit about tomorrow's game. This is the first time the team has gotten back to the title game since 2012. COACH WARLICK: That was our goal, to get to the finals. Regardless of South Carolina or Kentucky, we wanted to get in the championship game. I think these young ladies all year have worked for this moment, really they have. They worked hard. We've been hard on them, tough on them. Talk about rebounding. We work on rebounding every day, every day. It's brutal. It is brutal drills, rebounding every day.
It doesn't just happen that they're in the championship game in what they do. It's a battle.
I'm very proud of them because it's a tough battle, and they step up. They have the pressure on them, and now they get the opportunity to play in the championship game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.